NASA's Juno Spacecraft Prepares To Fly To Jupiter

Nasa's Juno is a space probe orbiting the planet Jupiter. It was built by Lockheed Martin and is operated by NASA's Jet Propulsion Laboratory. The Juno spacecraft launched on Aug. 5, 2011, from Cape Canaveral, Florida, and arrived at Jupiter on July 4, 2016.

During its mission, Juno soars low over the planet's cloud tops, as close as about 2,600 miles. During these flybys, Juno probes underneath the obscuring cloud cover of Jupiter and studies its auroras to learn more about the planet's origins, structure, atmosphere and magnetosphere.

Juno spacecraft entered safe mode Oct. 18 when an as-of-yet unidentified software performance issue caused its onboard computer to reboot. A few days before that, NASA was also forced to postpone a maneuver that would have shortened the spacecraft’s orbital period from its current 53 days to 14 days.

The decision was made after scientists at NASA discovered that a pair of check valves that regulate the flow of helium to Juno’s engines was malfunctioning. A NASA team is still assessing the condition of the valves in addition to determining the cause of the reboot.Just last week, the solar-powered spacecraft recovered from the unexpected safe mode and completing a minor burn of its thruster engines.

"Juno exited safe mode as expected, is healthy and is responding to all our commands," Rick Nybakken, Juno project manager from NASA's Jet Propulsion Laboratory in Pasadena, California, said in the statement. "We anticipate we will be turning on the instruments in early November to get ready for our December flyby."

According to Raw Story, on Dec. 11, when Juno makes its closest approach to Jupiter, all its science instruments would stay on. In addition, JunoCam, the high-resolution camera onboard the spacecraft, would also be switched on to capture close-up images of the gas giant.

More information on the Juno mission is available at: http://www.nasa.gov/juno

The public can follow the mission on Facebook and Twitter at: http://www.facebook.com/NASAJuno, http://www.twitter.com/NASAJuno

Images and information on how members of the public can participate in JunoCam's mission, can be found at: www.missionjuno.swri.edu/junocam.

 

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